Let’s start by talking about how we got to thinking about 2021. 2020 brought in unprecedented challenges for all business owners. COVID restriction, new health requirements, government and state mandates. . . all of it enough to put established companies out of business.
After the initial shock of the complete shutdown (Washington was one of only three states considering construction “non-essential”) we regrouped and put ourselves to work. We mobilized our team both internally and externally. We, overall, were very transparent about the fears we were currently facing. Instead of running, our team rallied and got to work figuring out how we’d stay in business.
Surviving the shutdown
Previously we had worked hard at establishing good relationships not only with our community Chambers, but also with our industry organizations. Because of this, we received good counsel during this time. We were able to change, document and move on.
We had also done a good job creating brand awareness and trust in our community of customers. Lucky for us, even during the most difficult times, the phones kept ringing.
Later, after it became apparent that the “short-term” restrictions weren’t going away, we again got to work on planning our future in the uncertain world.
Turning goals into milestone
We used our “down time” to solidify our core values and goals. Looking at who we were as a company and who we wanted to be to our customers. We completed this in a VTO document though the company philosophy of Traction®. This was an important first step.
We also used Traction® to break apart our goals into “milestones” which were easier to see and accomplish than our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).
The other work we continue to do is based on a few principles we gleaned during Zoom calls called:
Keep, Stop, Start.
Keep: After carefully evaluating our current business we decided what was working well. We’re looking at ways (even while working remotely) to keep doing what we do best. For Matrix, this was Client Satisfaction, Quality Work and Authentic Relationships. Due to this crystallization of who Matrix is, we’ve unearthed additional ways to engage our customers in conversations, to answer questions for them and to give them ways to trust us more (by being prepared with narratives or documentations for them).
Stop: Our review brought several things to light that no longer complimented our successful business future. Things maybe we’d been doing for years, but were cumbersome, or inefficient. Efficiencies in particular became a BIG focus of ours as our staff split into those working in the office and those working remotely.
Start: Other things floated up that were new for our company, but were easily added for increased production, or efficiencies. We started with our end goal – added in the steps to get there and then added assignments based on who needed to accomplish those steps. Overall, not a huge add to our current system – we wanted to be strategic and not overload our already stressed group. There were however, several small things that made a big impact. One bigger shift was the hiring of a new, local, IT provider to assist us better in the new challenging work environment. We also looked at new ways to support our employees during this difficult time. We were looking for more ways to recognize positive interactions. For more ways to celebrate when we can’t gather in person.
First in customer contact wins the race
We first heard this on one of the many seminars we attended. Due to our core values, this one really resonated for us.
Having been our focus since inception – we expanded and really delved into what a customer needs from their company contractor, and how we best could provide those needs to elicit happy referrals. Especially now, customers are looking for well-prepared companies. Ones that have a plan or can at least provide documentation that they’ve thought through the difficulties involved in face-to-face transactions. Especially if those transactions involve being inside of the customer’s home. Ultimately customers are looking for people they can trust.
Looking ahead to 2021
So, none of us have any clear pictures of what 2021 will bring. We are busy. The phone is still ringing. We’re very thankful for that. 2020 brought us an unintended break which allowed us to do the following work:
Work internally on the structure of our organization so we can grow by creating more efficiencies.
Creating strategic partnerships with companies that excel at things we’ve struggled with for years. Things like marketing, financial analysis and IT.
Focusing on making data-driven decisions, not guessing and hoping things will work. The margins for error have narrowed too much to allow this in the next few years.
Worked hard to try to “normalize” the changes we’ve faced. The initial shock is over, now we’re just gathering data and staying nimble in our company to allow us to react.
Rallying TOGETHER to be ready when the next pivot happens. We know more is coming, and we’re strong seeing it through - together.
Wendy Marvin is CEO of Matrix Roofing. See her full bio here.